Project Connect & Veteran Stand Down event returns next week in Centreville

(Courtesy photo)

St Joseph County Project Connect & Veteran Stand Down will return to the Centreville Fairgrounds’ Henningsen Show Arena on Friday, October 6. 

“Guests will connect to the many resources in our community,” said Amanda Johnson of Covered Bridge Healthcare and member of the Project Connect planning committee. “While at the event, participants will enjoy a bagged lunch, receive health screens, flu shots, and immunizations if they wish, get a free haircut, and go home with fresh food and commodities boxes.” 

Project Connect aims to assist low-income families and the homeless of St. Joseph County, but according to Laura Brott, St. Joseph County Human Services Commission Collaborative Coordinator and event chair, “Everyone is welcome to attend Project Connect and Veteran Stand Down to access information, health services, and the other amenities offered on site.“ 

Brott added, “Often, people aren’t aware of resources that are available to them when they need them or how to access them. At Project Connect, community members learn about available services whether their need exists now and can immediately be connected to providers or learn about services they potentially may need as they age.”

In its 18th year, St. Joseph County Project Connect has expanded its outreach efforts to include a wide variety of services including legal aide, health, education, employment, food and household, recovery, and more. 

Health screenings this year will include stroke screens, blood glucose, blood pressure, and osteoporosis screens.  Sturgis Walgreen Pharmacy will administer free flu shots. COVID shots and boosters will also be available through the BHSJ Community Health Agency.   

Community Action, along with the South Michigan Food Bank will provide food boxes and a fresh food distribution to attendees. 

“SJC Project Connect is a well-run operation that provides many services in one convenient place. This kind of event is easier to manage than visiting each agency individually throughout the county. That can be overwhelming for clients to navigate on their own,” said Kathy Olsen, Michigan Works! SW and 2023 Chair of the SJC Human Services Commission.  

According to Brott, approximately 168 households in SJC were served at 2022 Project Connect. “Many households continue to struggle and we anticipate just as many households or more participating this year.” 

St. Joseph County Project Connect will be held in conjunction with a Veteran Stand Down. Tiyanna Payne of the Battle Creek VA said, “Stand Downs provide services to veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits, counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services such as housing, employment, and substance abuse treatment.”  

Project Connect is a collaboration among the St. Joseph County Human Services Commission and its taskforces, led by the Housing Task Force, with the support of event sponsors and the many agencies and organizations providing free services on site. Financial and in-kind contributions from the following businesses make the event possible: Sturgis Area Community Foundation, the Battle Creek VA, the Centreville DHHS board of directors, Black Gold Potato Farm, Hardings Friendly Market of Three Rivers, Milestone Senior Services, Costco, and Yoder’s Country Market in Centreville.  

Free rides to and from Project Connect are available through the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority with at least 48 hours’ notice. Call 269-273-7808 to make reservations.